Abandoned to their fate : social policy and practice toward severely retarded people in America, 1820-1920 / Philip M. Ferguson.
By: Ferguson, Philip M.Series: Health, society, and policy: Publisher: Philadelphia, PA : Temple University Press, 1994Description: xx, 212 pages ; 22 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 1566391547.Subject(s): Rome State Custodial Asylum (N.Y.) -- History | INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY | SEVERE PROFOUND AND MULTIPLE DISABILITIES | HISTORY | GOVERNMENT POLICY | INSTITUTIONAL CARE | UNITED STATES OF AMERICA | ASYLUMS | ALMSHOUSESGenre/Form: History.
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Includes bibliographical references (pages 187-206) and index.
Ch. 1. Abandonment and Chronicity -- Ch. 2. The Legacy of the Almshouse -- Ch. 3. The Rise of the Idiot Asylums, 1850-1890 -- Ch. 4. Policy and Productivity in Rome's Early Years -- Ch. 5. Institutional Innovation and the Uses of Failure -- Ch. 6. Profiles of Chronicity -- Ch. 7. The History of Severe Retardation and the Future of Chronicity -- Appendix: Admission Forms to the Rome and Syracuse Asylums.
Covering a 100-year period in the history of the social policy and practice toward people with severe mental retardation, Abandoned to Their Fate looks at the lives of people once labeled "idiots," "hopeless," or "unteachable." Ferguson examines the problem of what he terms "chronicity," the definition of some of the disabled population as beyond successful treatment or training that would make them suitable for reentry into daily life. He argues that the construction of this hopeless population was necessary in order to demonstrate the success of new approaches to treatment.
The government, physicians, and families faced the quandary of what to do with people categorized as "feebleminded." Those who failed to respond to education or treatment were institutionalized, kept isolated except for contact with others like themselves, and simply left to a fate of neglect and exclusion. This book centers on a typical facility in New York. The Rome State Custodial Asylum for Unteachable Idiots (later the Rome Developmental Center) adopted a system of "custodialism" that is representative of the pattern of care provided by most American institutions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the treatments lauded in the supposed "golden age" of progressive reform are challenged by Ferguson as popular myths.
Even with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal policy of deinstitutionalization, Ferguson contends that the lives of many disabled people, particularly those with severe or multiple disabilities, have not significantly improved. Concluding that for most people in the United States reform has yet to arrive, he draws clear connections between the policy and reform initiatives of the past and those of the present.